Travel London Dart SLFs
The National Express Group re-entered the London bus business in February 2004 by purchasing Connex Bus with its garages, buses, routes and accoutrements. This included Connex' fleet of Dart SLFs.
DP101-120: short Darts for 100Twenty dual-doorway 9.3m Pointer2s came in September 2004 for route 100 (Shadwell Stn - Wapping - Tower - Aldgate - Liverpool St.Stn - LondonWall - St.Paul's - Blackfriars - Elephant & Castle). They began operations from Travel London's re-opened Walworth garage. Livery was overall red with a white top to the roof, carrying a large fleetnumber and logo on the roof.
They became 8301-8320 at the 2007 renumbering.
DP108, now Abellio 8308, passes under the railway at the east end of Waterloo East on route 100.
DP13-39: MPDs for P13, G1, C1Eight MPDs (DP13-20) followed on quickly in October 2004, destined for the P13 (Streatham Garage - Tulse Hill Stn - West Dulwich - Dulwich - Peckham Rye - Peckham - New Cross Gate). These were also all-red with white roofs and roof-spotting numbers, and operated out of Walworth (WL).
DP21-30 followed on in April 2005 to replace the earlier Alexanders from route G1 (Streatham High Rd - Streatham - Tooting Bdy - St.George's Hosp. - Springfield Hosp. - Wandsworth Common - Clapham South, Clapham Junction - Battersea). The new buses continued to operate the route from Battersea. The displaced Alexanders, DA1-14, were despatched in May to Travel West Midlands, leaving DA15-18 on the 315.
DP31-39 replaced Solos on West End route C1 (Victoria Stn - Sloane Square - Knightsbridge Stn - South Kensington - Earls Court - Kensington High St.) in June 2005. Operation of the C1 continued to be from Battersea (QB).
DP13 was in use on the C1 in October 2006, seen at Victoria Stn and at South Kensington Stn.
They were renumbered as 8013-8039 in March 2007.
In August 2010 six (8030, 8032, 8033, 8034, 8038, and 8039) were withdrawn into store after tender losses and subsequent shuffling of newer EnviroDarts, and these six were subsequently returned off-lease.
8019 and 8031 both leaving Crystal Palace bus station on the 322 on Sunday 23rd October 2011.
Takeover of Tellings-Golden MillerIn June 2005 Travel London took over all the London and Surrey bus operations of Tellings Golden Miller, including the enormous fleet of Dart SLFs and a few training buses. Bases at Fulwell (TF), Byfleet (TG), and Hayes (TM) were included, and the London and Surrey routes.
Travel London immediately began replacing fleetnames, with red on the white buses and white on the red ones. As well as Travel London the buses displayed the stylised WM of the West Midlands parent company. A programme of repaints for the London area buses was established. Red buses with narrow yellow/gold bands lost them, leaving just red with blue skirts. Many buses were repainted all-red.
October 2005 in Richmond: change is apparent: 420 on the R68 wears red-fleetnames, 633 on the R70 has been repainted in all-red and wears white fleetnames.
Route 152The ex-Wing's Sprytes on route H50 came off in March 2006, and were despatched to TWM in Walsall for repaint into all-red livery. They returned to Beddington Cross for use in April on taken-over route 152 New Malden - Raynes Park - South Wimbledon - Merton - Colliers Wood - Mitcham - Eastfields - Pollards Hill. The route also required other Darts, which included ex-BAA-liveried 503 (which had been restored after October 2004 fire damage).
There were also six hired 10.1m Pointer2s from Stagecoach London (34119-123, 34196). These were renumbered DP479-483, 478 in June 2006, but were returned to Stagecoach, 34196 to East London in August and 34119-34123 to Stagecoach Warwickshire in September. Their place on the 152 was taken by DP434-440, transferred from Fulwell off the 203 in September.
Renumbering the TGM fleetFrom June 2006 the ex-TGM fleet was renumbered. Plaxton MPDs (301-358) became DP41-95 (not in sequence), the short/medium Plaxtons, East Lancs and Caetanos became the DP4**, DE4** and DC4** series respectively, and the longer Darts from the 5** and 6** series became the DP7** and DC7** series. The renumbering did not follow the old sequences in all cases. The Darts on the 112, which had carried incorrect numbers since new, were renumbered with their correct OLD numbers in June, just ready for the renumbering!
The ex-Connex Darts DA15-18, just off the 315 in May, were renumbered DA5-8 and dispersed as required, DA5-7 soon working on the ex-Vario routes H20, H26, H28 at Fulwell, and DA8 on the Woking - Wisley Gardens Shuttle from Byfleet. The ex-Connex Caetanos had by now all departed from the fleet, as had all but DP11 of the ex-Connex Pointers.
Even the Dart SLFs on hire from Stagecoach were given fleet numbers at this stage, becoming DP478-483.
DP473-477: medium Pointers for 129Five 10.1m 28-seater dual doorway Pointers arrived late in May 2006 for an early June take-up of new short route 192 (Greenwich (Cutty Sark) - East Greenwich - North Greenwich Stn). Operation was from Walworth.
DP1-4: air-con MPDs for 441
8003 at Staines Bus Station, ready for another 441 journey, Sunday 22 May 2011.In the autumn of 2006 four air-conditioned MPDs arrived for the 441 Heathrow Airport service. They arrived in September, scraping in before the Euro4 engine deadline (they were Euro3), and perhaps in consequence arrived in white. They were repainted for the late-October roll-out, in red and white "Surrey" livery, with a silver-grey swoosh and rear, plus route branding on the cant-rail. The vehicle requirement was four, so ex-Wings DE420 (also with air conditioning) was pulled off the 152 and transferred to Byfleet as a spare. Three of the previous Pointers from the 441, DP702, 704, 705, went to Fulwell for the Kingston University contracts during the Christmas vacation (releasing Tridents).
RenumberingIn 2007 the new fashion in the industry was for big companies to have nationwide numbering schemes, and in March 2007 a new renumbering was started to bring the Travel London system in line with Travel West Midlands. Class prefixes were out, and the Darts received numbers in the 8*** series.
8009-8010, 8096-99: secondhand MPDs for ByfleetEarly in June 2007 Travel London took over several Flight's Hallmark services based at New Haw, Wiltax taking over others. To operate them Travel London also took on six MPDs from Flight's, four of which had previously been with Connex. They went to Byfleet, working on 426, 446, 451 and 513, plus schools services 663 and 664.
8009 was an early withdrawal (March 2009), but the other five survived until August 2010 before going into store. After the autumn shakeout, prompted by the acquisition of the ex-First Beeline East Lancs Darts from Surrey County Council, they were returned off-lease in the spring of 2011.
NedRail takes over: Abellio.In May 2009 NedRailways took over the Travel London and Travel Surrey operations, with all premises, vehicles and routes. Rebranding as Abellio followed in October. The Netherlands Railways double-ended arrow was carried discretely.
Various hires.In April 2008 Travel London made a brief hire of a 10.7m Dart SLF that had been with Thames Travel of Wallingford. They needed it for the 472 and 690 at Byfleet, until a new Enviro300 arrived in May.
Then in December Travel London hired six 10.5m Caetano-bodied SLFs that had been with Docklands Minibus for use during the i-Bus fitting program. They went first to Fulwell, and then to Hayes, returning off-lease in January 2009.
Caetanos swapped for Plaxtons (8478-8487).In February 2010 Abellio arranged a swap with Dawson Rentals, exchanging Caetano bodied Darts from the 235 for ten Plaxton-bodied Darts that had been until then with Metroline (and previously either with Armchair or Thorpes). They became 8478 to 8487. They took some time to get repainted and into service, so it was rather later in the year that the Caetanos left for Dawsons.
Four more of the white ex-Metroline Darts were hired at the same time for use on temporary route 545, circumventing gas mains repairs in Loughborough Junction that had diverted routes 35, 45 and 345.
Ex-London United Plaxtons as trainers.10.1m Plaxton-bodied Darts DPS566 and 571 became Abellio's 8901 and 8902 in April 2010, as trainers, 8901 at Battersea and 8902 at Fulwell.
East Lancs Super Darts: 8761-8774.In August 2010 Surrey County Council dispersed its Ride Pegasus fleet of East Lancs-bodied Super Darts, that had been used for dedicated transport for primary school children in rural Surrey. The Council decided that it cost too much. The kids could learn to play in the traffic. Abellio Surrey was the recipient of fourteen of the twenty-one buses, that had previously been operated for the Council by First Beeline. Now these fourteen would be used on Surrey-contracted routes 446, 458, 461, and 566/7 from Byfleet, displacing older Dart SLFs. They were repainted into Abellio Surrey red and white, and renumbered 8761-8774.
Ex-Ealing Caetano Nimbuses: 8488-8494 and 8499In September 2011 Abellio leased eight of the Caetano Nimbuses that had been with Ealing CT. ECT had returned them to Dawson Rentals in March 2009, and after eighteen months in store, including a refurbishment, they appeared at Beddington Cross for use on the 152, where they would operate alongside new and existing EnviroDarts. They themselves were still relatively new, having seen just six years service (four in the case of 8499), and allowed the retirement of some of Abellio's oldest SLFs.
8493 at the Purley (Old Lodge Lane) terminus of the 455, 17th March 2013.
Ex- T-GM/Metrobus Caetano Nimbuses: 8495-8498Also in September 2011 Abellio took on four refurbished 10.5m Nimbuses. These were also relatively young, having started with Tellings-Golden Miller in June 2004 for the ex-Crystals Dartford operation. They had been taken over by Metrobus of Orpington in March 2005, but returned off-lease in May 2007. Since then they had been migrant, three spending just over a year as trainers with Arriva The Shires (0011, 0022 and 0003), then a while with Excel at Stansted. The other had spent some time working at Heathrow. Now Abellio took them, refurbished, for use on the renewed contract for the U7.
Secondhand MPDs: 8110-8117The policy of tendering for TfL contracts on the basis of older rather than new buses was continued over the end of 2011 into 2012. Eight MPDs were sourced via Volant Passenger Services. Three dated from 2004, five from 2006. All received mid-life refurbishments, which included the provision of fairly prominent white-painted air-conditioning packs above the cab, and overall red livery, naturally. Some went to Hayes to take over the U9 from Arriva The Shires, others to Fulwell for the H20.